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Innovative collaboration between SU students, Syracuse Opera makes for unprecedented multimedia concert production of 'The Flying Dutchman'

February 12, 2010

Jemeli Tanui
(315) 443-5172

Syracuse Opera’s premiere of Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” will feature a video developed by 14 students from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) that serves as projected scenery for the production.

Using the student-developed video allowed Syracuse Opera to devote resources toward the highest level of musical artistry for the multimedia concert event, including internationally renowned Metropolitan Opera stars led by Greer Grimsley, an expanded Syracuse Opera Chorus, and accompaniment by the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.

“Our challenge was to make what is essentially concert opera feel theatrical,” says Catherine Wolff, general and artistic director of Syracuse Opera. “Thanks to Chancellor Nancy Cantor and VPA Dean Ann Clarke, we were introduced to Chris McCray, Adam Brown and the VPA students who understood and met our vision. What they created is not only unprecedented for Syracuse, but also for the national opera scene.”

Wagner’s score was divided into 14 sections by Douglas Kinney Frost, Syracuse Opera’s director of music and conductor of “The Flying Dutchman.” Working with Brown, producer of the Connective Corridor’s Urban Video Project (UVP) and an instructor at VPA, each student created a video that reflected his or her component’s emotions and action. The VPA class was funded by an Enitiative grant from the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation.

“This is a perfect illustration of the way that our collaborations create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “The distinct talents resident in Syracuse Opera and in our students and faculty are impressive in their own right. Bringing them together creates a truly transformative experience, not just for the audience, but for the artists as well as they stimulate and elevate each other’s creativity.”

The VPA students were connected with Syracuse Opera by COLAB, an interdisciplinary initiative based in VPA that helps organizations solve real-world problems through innovative design and collaborative thinking. “We’re extremely excited about this project,” says McCray, executive director of COLAB. “It is a perfect example of what COLAB was created to do–connecting college community to culture community allowing students to play and interact and thereby gain real-life, hands-on experience.”

Conductor Kinney Frost agrees. “Opera is a living art form,” he says. “Allowing young designers and videographers the opportunity to express themselves through our medium is inspiring and truly expresses the intent of Wagner’s lifelong pursuit of telling a story set to music in the most prolific and progressive way.”

Syracuse Opera’s “The Flying Dutchman” will be presented in the Crouse-Hinds Theater of the John H. Mulroy Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 28, at 2 p.m. Besides Grimsley as the Dutchman, the principal artists include Lori Phillips as Senta, Allan Glassman as Erik and Peter Strummer as Daland. Ticket prices start at $18 and can be purchased by calling (315) 476-7372 or (315) 424-8200 or by ordering online at www.SyracuseOpera.com.

About Syracuse Opera
Celebrating its 35th year, Syracuse Opera enriches the lives of the people of upstate New York through locally produced opera, the one all-inclusive art form that celebrates the beauty of the human singing voice energized through the spectacle of live theater. Offering three mainstage productions each season and year-round community performances and education programs, Syracuse Opera is a professional company reaching more than 60,000 people each year. For more information, visit www.SyracuseOpera.com or call (315) 475-5915.

About the Urban Video Project
The Urban Video Project (UVP) is an initiative of Syracuse University with technology provided by Time Warner Cable. UVP has developed into one of the first permanent series of urban projection installations in the United States under the leadership of Denise Heckman, associate professor in VPA. UVP includes three venues along Syracuse’s Connective Corridor strip, projecting artwork and other cultural video displays daily from dusk to 11 p.m. throughout the year. For more information on the UVP and to see its innovative videos, visit http://www.urbanvideoproject.com/.  

About Syracuse University’s COLAB initiative
COLAB is an interdisciplinary initiative based in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts that brings students, community and corporate partners together to bridge gaps and create opportunity.  COLAB creates these connections by being facilitators in the exercise of visual thinking and collaborative practices. For more information, contact Chris McCray at chmccray@syr.edu or visit http://colab.syr.edu/.

About Enitiative
Enitiative, funded by a $3 million, five-year grant from the Kauffman Foundation, is a collaborative partnership that provides contacts, resources and funding support for entrepreneurial projects, while uniting faculty and students of local academic institutions and members of the community. Enitiative’s goal is to broaden the reach of entrepreneurial education and innovation in the Central New York region.

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